Speed of adaptation and genomic signatures in arms race and trench warfare models of host-parasite coevolution

Speed of adaptation and genomic signatures in arms race and trench warfare models of host-parasite coevolution
Aurelien Tellier, Stefany Moreno-Game, Wolfgang Stephan
(Submitted on 25 Jul 2013)

Host and parasite population genomic data are increasingly used to discover novel major genes underlying coevolution, assuming that natural selection generates two distinguishable polymorphism patterns: selective sweeps and balancing selection. These genomic signatures would result from two coevolutionary dynamics, the trench warfare with fast cycles of allele frequencies and the arms race with slow recurrent fixation of alleles. However, based on genome scans for selection, few genes for coevolution have yet been found in hosts. To address this issue, we build a gene-for-gene model with genetic drift, mutation and integrating coalescent simulations to study observable genomic signatures at host and parasite loci. In contrast to the conventional wisdom, we show that coevolutionary cycles are not faster under the trench warfare model compared to the arms race, except for large population sizes and high values of coevolutionary costs. Based on the generated SNP frequencies, the expected balancing selection signature under the trench warfare dynamics appears to be only observable in parasite sequences in a limited range of parameter, if effective population sizes are sufficiently large (>1000) and if selection has been acting for a long time (>4N generations). On the other hand, the typical signature of the arms race dynamics, i.e. selective sweeps, can be detected in parasite and to a lesser extent in host populations even if coevolution is recent. We suggest to study signatures of coevolution via population genomics of parasites rather than hosts, and caution against inferring coevolutionary dynamics based on the speed of coevolution.

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